03/19/12 5:43 PM ET
Baker slated to pitch next in Minors game
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Baker, who is dealing with right elbow tendonitis, was watched over by pitching coach Rick Anderson and head trainer Rick McWane during his workout. But after throwing all of his pitches -- his fastball, curveball and changeup -- Baker said he had no problems with his elbow and plans on pitching in a Minor League game on Thursday.
"It feels good," Baker said. "I got after it at a pretty good intensity, at least as much as I'm able to in a bullpen session. So we'll go to the next progression, which we'll be throwing a few innings on the Minor League side. Obviously, we have to see how I wake up [Tuesday], but I don't foresee any problems because of how it felt today."
Baker is scheduled to pitch two innings in a Minor League game on Thursday. His last start was on March 10 in a "B" game against the Pirates, when he threw 43 pitches in two innings of work.
There's still a possibility Baker lands on the disabled list to start the year because he might not build up to the proper pitch count by the time the season begins. He was slated to start the club's home opener against the Angels on April 9.
But Baker remains optimistic, especially considering he felt fine during Monday's bullpen session after throwing at about 75 percent in his bullpen session on Saturday. The Twins, however, are stretching out Liam Hendriks, Matt Maloney and Anthony Swarzak just in case Baker lands on the disabled list.
"I've got a little routine that I usually do for my [bullpen sessions] and my warmups before I pitch in a game," Baker said. "So, basically, I did that, and then threw to three or four hitters at the end with good intensity. That's the only thing I know to do to test it. I think that still allows you to get loose as you would in a game and then you test it."
Morneau says he's close to getting timing back
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau went 0-for-2 with a walk against the Red Sox on Monday, seeing his batting average fall to .100 this spring. But Morneau feels like he's getting closer to getting his timing back.
Serving as designated hitter, Morneau walked in his first plate appearance, grounded out to first in the third inning and struck out in the fifth. He is 3-for-30 this spring -- all singles -- while playing in 10 games.
"It's gotten better," Morneau said of his timing. "It's not where I want it to be yet. The swing's getting better. The swing feels a lot better than it did when I first got down here. It's a process, it's moving along. I just have to keep telling myself that it's slow, and just because it's not here now doesn't mean it's not going to be here a week from now."
Morneau, 30, played in just 69 games last year after battling concussion symptoms and undergoing surgeries on his neck, left wrist, left knee and right foot.
So far, only the wrist has bothered him this spring, as he said he can still feel it when he swings. But he was told by doctors that he can't cause any further damage to his wrist by swinging, and that swinging only causes it to get sore.
"I'm trying to do the right amount of swinging," said Morneau, who had his wrist wrapped up and iced after the game. "I have to swing to build the strength, but if I swing too much, it gets a little irritated, so it's kind of hard. I'm trying to work on my swing, and get the feel back to where I need to be, and if I swing too much, it gets irritated, so it's kind of a fine line."
Morneau has historically struggled in spring, as he's a career .244 hitter in Grapefruit League play. He also hit just .160 during Spring Training in 2010 before hitting .345 with 18 homers in 81 games before suffering a season-ending concussion early that July.
"We've still got two weeks left," Morneau said. "So there's still a lot of time for at-bats, and still a lot of time if I want to go over to the Minor League side [and] get seven or eight at-bats in a game, I can do that. So, yeah, I'm trying to get my timing back and my strength back, and the only way to do it is to face live pitching."
Marquis pleased with effort against Red Sox
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Jason Marquis was tested on Monday when he faced the Red Sox's potent lineup at JetBlue Park.
Marquis, making the transition to the American League after spending 12 years in the National League, allowed three runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter over four-plus innings.
"It's a quality lineup," said Marquis, who has an 8.53 ERA this spring. "Obviously, they speak for themselves. The organization definitely speaks for itself. I made my pitches today, got the results I wanted to, keeping the ball on the ground."
Marquis said he was most frustrated with plunking Kevin Youkilis and walking Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second inning. He allowed three runs that frame but settled down after that.
"He was good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He got ground balls. Even on the runs they scored, we had a couple of opportunities to turn double plays."
Plouffe to give hamstring some time to heal
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after exiting Sunday's game with a strained right hamstring, Twins outfielder Trevor Plouffe said he's feeling better and hopes to return to the lineup soon.
Plouffe left Sunday's game against the Pirates in the seventh inning after experiencing tightness in his hamstring upon rounding first base after hitting an RBI single.
"I felt a grab in my lower hamstring while rounding first base," Plouffe said. "I knew what it was, because I had it happen in Boston last year. But this one is a lot less severe. So I'm happy."
Plouffe strained his left hamstring on May 8 last season before returning on May 13. The Twins have an off-day Tuesday, but Plouffe said he's not sure if he'll be ready to go by Wednesday.
"I hope Wednesday, but I'd definitely rather take it easy and make sure it's healed up," said Plouffe, who estimated it might take a week before his hamstring is fully healed.
Plouffe had been hitting well over his previous four games, going 6-for-12 with a double and two RBIs to raise his batting average to .276 this spring.
"We have a bunch of good guys to work with here, and it was coming around," Plouffe said. "The last couple games had been going good for me. I think it'll still be there when I get back."